Trigger Finger: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

What is Trigger Finger?

Trigger Finger is a condition of pain or stiffness when straightening or bending the finger. The ring finger and the thumb are most often affected by Trigger Finger.

The tendon lining is like a tunnel in which the tendons glide to bring about motion. Trigger Finger occurs when there is swelling of the tendon lining that impairs the smooth gliding motion of the tendons.

This leads to finger joint pain or a 'catching' feeling when you try to flex your finger, and the finger may become 'locked' or stuck in a bent position.

What are the symptoms of Trigger Finger?

Symptoms include:

  • A nodule may be felt at the base of the finger or thumb.
  • Tightness at the base of the finger or finger stiffness (especially in the morning).
  • Triggering or locking on opening or closing the fingers - when the finger begins to trigger or lock (stuck in a bent position), pain in the middle of the finger or thumb can be felt.

What are the risk factors of Trigger Finger?

Risk factors include:

  • Gender: More common in women.
  • Repeating gripping: Individuals who have an occupation or hobby that involves repetitive and prolonged gripping are at higher risk of developing trigger finger.
  • Health conditions: Individuals with pre-existing health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and diabetes are at higher risk of developing trigger finger.

How is Trigger Finger diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made based on various investigations. Your doctor will first evaluate your medical history and symptoms before conducting a physical examination. Your doctor will ask you to open and close your hand. Your fingers will be checked for painful parts, lumps, and locking.

How is Trigger Finger treated?

Non-surgical treatment

  • Reduce frequency of repetitive gripping.
  • Wear a split to rest the tendon.


Medications such as painkillers or Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve pain.

Steroid injection

If you are not responding well to the treatments above, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation.

Trigger Finger surgery

If all other types of treatment have not worked and your finger is locked (permanently stuck), a procedure known as the Trigger Finger surgery may be suggested. This is a minor procedure that can be done as day surgery under local anaesthesia.

Trigger finger surgery is performed to release the tendon from the sheath when it is causing pain, or the finger becomes ‘locked’. The surgeon will make a small incision near the base of the affected finger to release the tendon from the part of the sheath it was catching on.

Surgery is usually an effective and permanent solution to Trigger Finger. You will regain normal use of your hand upon recovery.

Book an appointment at Pantai Hospitals

Early detection of Trigger Finger makes it easier to treat the condition with effective and appropriate treatment. A dedicated and expert team of Orthopaedic specialists at Pantai Hospital is available for consultation to provide the best care and assistance.

Get in touch with us to book an appointment today if you have concerns or questions regarding Trigger Finger. We assure you the best possible care tailored to your specific needs.

Pantai Hospital has been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

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